What is Intensity in Training

Many people often find themselves asking the question what is intensity in training? The reason for this is quite simple, it is often confused. While many think it means how hard you are working, it actually refers to the amount of weight you are moving. Now don’t worry if your one of those who has mixed this up, I can see why, it is commonly used as a measure of effort when talking about training. I will fully clear this up and provide some useful information to you as this article progresses!

How Intensity Relates to Your Training:

Now that you know the actual definition, let me put it into context for you. Let’s say you want to increase your intensity, this would look like increasing the amount you are squatting from 195 pounds to 205 pounds (this is an example). Here you have just increased your intensity, and if you think about it, this does mean you are increasing your effort in one way or another because you are moving more weight!

This can be used for many things within your training, it is directly related to a goal of getting stronger and definitely plays a part in gaining muscle. It can also be used for many other goals such as training for power or even muscular endurance in the sense of; if you can increase the weight you are moving but keep performance consistent, you have just improved. Next, I will talk about some ways you may want to implement intensity into your training.

Implementing Intensity Into Your Training:

You can implement the use of intensity in a few different ways. First of all, if you are weight training in any way you are already using intensity. However manipulating intensity is where the real benefits come from. The main way to do this is through progressive overload. As we know from my latest article Training For Goals, progressive overload can be achieved in a few ways. Relating it to intensity, however, would involve increasing the weight you are moving over a period of time in a way that forces your body to adapt and increase it’s performance capabilities.

There are also more “finer” areas where you can increase your intensity, however, these are for more intermediate and above lifters because most beginners will be able to progress without using these. One of these finer areas refers to what is called heavier eccentrics. When performing a lift we are stronger on the eccentric portion of the movement. So if we can take advantage of this we have a chance to increase the intensity we are using and involve overload. This added intensity will ultimately help to gain muscle because one form of gaining muscle is through eccentric damage.

Intensity and Effort (Don’t Get The Two Confused):

Now that you know the true meaning of intensity, how it relates to your training and how it can benefit you in your training you have no excuse to not know what intensity is. Next time someone says you need to increase your intensity, clarify with them to see what they are actually saying. I can almost guarantee you most beginners-intermediates won’t know what intensity actually is and clarifying this is never a bad thing.

I thank you for taking the time to read my article, I hope it has helped you to figure out the real meaning of intensity and how it is related to your training. As always if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to get back to you!


Until Next Time,

Kohl Johnson


Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.


Support is much appreciated if you benefited from this:

Kohl Johnson

I am a 16-year-old fitness fanatic! I have learned nothing but quality training and nutrition information from the utmost well-respected individuals in the field. Now, my only focus is to share this knowledge with you for your benefit, in the most honest way possible. We are all in this together! LET'S GO!

6 Responses

  1. This is certainly an interesting and unique take on the topic of intensity. I hadn’t really thought about it in terms of how much weight you are using. How does this apply to cardio exercises and HIIT training? Should it not be referred to as upping the intensity when you are asked to go harder? Hope all is well and have a Merry Christmas!

    • The actual meaning of intensity isn’t typically applied to steady state cardio. With something like H.I.T.T if you were using weight you could increase that. It’s not to say you should never say increase your intensity in regards to how hard your working. You just need to make sure you understand the context, maybe say something like “you need to be training more intensely”. Hope that helped and Merry Christmas to you as well!

  2. It seems your arguing that an “increase in intensity” is an increase in weight. How about an increase in repetitive reps? I how found in my workouts that increasing reps has actually produced the desired results and it has helped with the ability to increase the weight. The thing I stress to the athletes I work with is constancy and  discipline. Either way it seems an increase in intensity is doing something different to make the muscle work more and get more production.

    • Hi Lee, I was referring to the direct definition of intensity. Of course, increasing reps/volume is also a very viable option. However, it also comes down to your goals. For example, increasing reps/volume is more relative to hypertrophy, while increasing intensity/weight is more relative to strength training. I agree, being able to increase reps, (for example being able to do 8 reps of a weight at the end of a program compared to 4 when starting) is beneficial. Increasing reps and weight go hand in hand, however, there would be more of an emphasis on increasing weight for gaining strength. Hope that helps!

  3. With exercises that are not weight related how can intensity be applied? Does increasing the number of push ups you do amount to increasing the intensity of the training? 

    Its obvious the weight increment in weight related exercises calls for more energy and perseverance. In relation to jogging, is it the increment in the distance covered , or increment in the speed required to cover the original distance, amount to intensity ?

    • Hi there, for bodyweight exercises, you could implement things like slow eccentrics or plyometrics to increase intensity, as something similar to increasing weight. However, increasing weight isn’t the only way to progress, increasing reps and total volume is 100% a viable option as well. For jogging, the speed increase would be the closest to increasing intensity. However, like bodyweight training, increasing the distance (which would be like volume) is also a viable option. With staying relative to your goal in mind (not doing 5K runs as the majority of your training when you’re training for sprinting as an example).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment

Follow by Email